mack8 wrote:It looks like they like the long rang of the Su-33, that's why they hang on to them. Possibly the upgraded ones will act as a sort of stop gap until the T-50K? (also long range)
If the Su-33s have enough hours on them, given the cost of new aircraft (they have decided long ago restarting production of Su-33 is not feasible) an upgrade is comparatively very cost effective to significantly increase their potential for the remaining time they will be in service. They will probably upgrade about 12 or so imo if they'll go ahead.
Yes that's the only thing I can think of, a combination of the Su-33s superior range, and the fact that the naval PAK-FA could be ready in less than a decade; and the only thing that's really needed is a stop-gap.
The logic makes sense but overall I'm not convinced. Drop-tanks can be used to increase MiG-29K ranges, while the increasing minaturization and range-increases of anti-ship and anti-air weaponary means that todays MiG-29Ks will be able to hit all the same targets that Su-33s could 10-15 years ago anyway.
Meanwhile in terms of the naval PAK-FA - there is no need to rush it at all. The naval PAK-FA should be developed for the next-generation of ACs, that will have more space for a large fighter like the PAK-FA, and will probably have EM-catapults that will insure that they will be able to launch at max-loads. This will also give time for all the chinks in the design of the baseline PAK-FA to be ironed out, before launching the production of the naval version.
In terms of the Kuznetsov - it is a smaller AC with only ski-ramps - but with its eventual overhaul it will certainly be able to carry quite a large MIG-29K complement, this is an ideal aircraft for it and the Kuznetsov can be equipped with them right up to its eventual retirement.
My only hope is that they still plan to go ahead with MiG-29K introduction, but want to modernize and keep around a few Su-33s in the carrier air-wing for the long-range missions. I guess such an idea has its value too.
GJ Flanker wrote:At the end, you've to admit, a super-dooper modernized Su-33 will have the edge over a MiG-29KR in every way.
No I don't have to 'admit' it.
The MiG-29K is a newly-built aircraft that will be able to serve for a lot longer than just the 10 years that the Su-33 upgrade will give, there are no questions about its ability to take-off with full weapons loadouts from ski-ramp aircraft carriers, and you will be able to fit considerably more MiG-29Ks/MiG-29KUBs onto the Kuznetsov than you could fit Su-33s; owing to their compactness and the ability of MiG-29KUBs to double as trainer aircraft.
Actually I'm surprised they have decided that the Su-33s have another 10 years left in them. Modernization will do zilch for the age of the airframe, and I have heard that those airframes are pretty worn-out by now, needing replacement and soon. That was part of the big reason for the MiG-29K program funding; and the idea that India's purchasing of MiG-29Ks will make it worthwhile to build ones for the Russian navy too.